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Monthly Author Q&A > Q&A with June 2012 Authors!

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message 1: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
Welcome to our Q&A with the authors who have books out in June: Louise M. Gouge, Winnie Griggs, Deborah Hale and Sherri Shackelford.

At the end of the week, there will be a drawing from among all members who post questions or comments. The winners will receive signed books from some of our participating authors!

I get the fun of starting off our June Q&A.

My June book, The Baron's Governess Bride is the third story in my Glass Slipper Brides series. I recently accepted a contract for three more. Because the heroines of the stories have a connection from their childhood, but are now scattered far and wide, readers don't have to read all the previous books to enjoy the current one, but there are mentions of the characters from the other stories and sometimes past characters make guest appearances. In this book, the hero and heroine from my novella from The Wedding Season appear briefly.

Here is an excerpt from the story:

Since it's hard to ask myself questions, I'd love to hear if you have any... :)

message 2: by Ausjenny (new)

Ausjenny | 4952 comments Hi Deborah, Dont enter me as I have 3 of the four books coming. I preordered last month when i did an order and got 10% off and free delivery (got to love the book depository).

How did you come up with the idea for this series and for this book inparticular.
Also did you find out anything interesting in your research that either surprised you?

message 3: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
Hi Jenny! Thanks so much for starting me off with some great questions.

I got the idea for the series several years ago when I was writing for Harlequin Historical. I had read Jane Eyre several times and Bronte's descriptions of the charity school really stayed with me. I thought it would be interesting to have a series of books about girls who had become friends there then gone on to become governesses. But I really didn't like the idea of doing these stories with the level of sensuality readers expected from HH. Since I had read and loved the LIH books from the very beginning of the series, I thought it might be a better fit.

This particular story is a plot idea I had years ago. I had thought of doing a set of novellas based on fairy tales and this would be the Cinderella story. I thought of calling it Miss Ellerby's Fairy Godchildren because the girls help transform their governess for the ball. But there was a piece of the story missing - how could the hero be the heroine's employer for all that time then not recognize her at the ball? I couldn't figure that out so I put the story away. When LIH bought the series, I looked at the idea again because it was a governess story and I got the idea for the heroine to disguise her looks. It just took off from there.

That plot twist came out of my research about the lives of governesses. Often, if they were attractive, they had to be very careful or they could be preyed upon by men in the household or visitors. Something new I learned that surprised me was that the Brontes had two older sisters who died of tuberculosis they contracted at a school like Jane Eyre's. Maria Bronte was the inspiration for Charlotte's Helen Burns.

Laura AKA Loves 2 Read Romance | 909 comments I love the sound of this book! I don't think I have gotten to read any of the Glass slipper novels but I will have to check them out. Please don't enter me this week as I won a book from May's Q&As and would like someone else the chance! If I think of any question's I'll pop in but I will probably be scarce this week. My mom's stepfather passed away this morning. I posted more details on the General discussion page.

message 5: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
So sorry to hear that, Laura! I know my husband's stepmother and stepfather were/are as close as grandparents to our children. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

message 6: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Shackelford (sherrishackelford) | 169 comments Deborah, Your books are such a joy to read!

message 7: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
Thank you so much, Sherri! As I'm sure you are finding out, it's a very special compliment when other authors enjoy your work.

I wish I could say every book was a joy to write! Some are, but others are a real challenge. Often those turn out to be the ones readers like best. I did enjoy writing this book, especially the three daughters (who have some aspects of me and my sisters).

message 8: by Paula-O (new)

Paula-O (kyflo130) | 2257 comments Deborah sounds like a wonderful story with a Baron and his governess, I love the fact that she tries to make herself appear older and not so pretty to keep from having him make advances as the other employers had done. Did this Baron lose his wife long ago or recently?
I am sure I will be reading this one.

message 9: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
Hi Paula! The Baron lost his wife several years ago. He loved her very much and is afraid to risk his heart again. But he feels he should remarry for his daughters' sake. The girls don't want a stepmother, though (having read too many fairy tales) and Grace has stepmother issues, so that adds another wrinkle to the story. :)

message 10: by Lyn (last edited Jun 04, 2012 07:39AM) (new)

Lyn (lyncote) | 1644 comments Mod
Laura AKA Loves 2 Read Romance wrote: "I love the sound of this book! I don't think I have gotten to read any of the Glass slipper novels but I will have to check them out. Please don't enter me this week as I won a book from May's Q&As..."

Don't we have the most pleasant members in this group! And sympathies about your family's loss.

message 11: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
Don't we have the most pleasant members in this group!

I was thinking that too, Lyn! They're always wanting to make sure others get chances at prizes and such.

message 12: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl | 9 comments I love books with the Cinderella theme. Do you have any plans to use another fairy tale theme in future books?

message 13: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
Hi Cheryl! I don't have any plans for that at the moment, but I do really like to use traditional plots like that. I've done a Beauty and the Beast story and a Pygmalion story for HH. The upcoming ones will involve a wounded warrior, an over-protective father of a special needs child and a governess playing matchmaker for her employer.

Cinderella stories are so widely popular - they appear in almost every culture around the world and have stood the test of time. I think part of the appeal is the transformation of the heroine from scullery maid to magical princess. I get my Cinderella fix watching "What Not to Wear."

message 14: by Winnie (last edited Jun 04, 2012 02:45PM) (new)

Winnie Griggs (winniegriggs) | 235 comments Hi Deb! I absolutely love connected stories! Is this something you set out to do normally, or does it happen organically for you as you're working on the first book?

message 15: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
It's interesting you should ask that, Winnie. For the longest time all my books were completely unconnected. None of the secondary characters even had any potential for their own stories. But I knew readers liked connected books - I enjoy them, myself. So I set out to try to create a series. It took me awhile to figure out. When I wrote for Luna I did two connected books. Then recently I did a trilogy for HH. So I've kind of been taking baby-steps, but I finally have a full-fledged series! I'm really interested in hearing about your experiences working on a multi-author series, but I'll save my questions for Wednesday. :)

message 16: by Ausjenny (new)

Ausjenny | 4952 comments I enjoy the connected books that are also stand alone. there are times when I haven't read the previous ones or I haven't access to previous books so like to be able to read the book without reading the other books.

message 17: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
To me that's one of the tricks of creating a really good series, Jenny. I'm not really looking for a continuing story line, I just want to be able to revisit past characters and introduce new ones. I want to be able to read the books out of order without losing too much.

Having a community like Janet's Dry Creek is a terrific basis for that kind of series. Though I think you need a very strong sense of place so that the community is almost another character.

message 18: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mitzi_wanham) | 64 comments Sometimes when there is a series where they are connected, but only that the characters are revisited, i will go back and read the whole series in order. Do enjoy getting to know characters better, for sure in the Love Inspired type novels where they are short.

message 19: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
Hi Marianne -- that's so great to hear! I will often do that, too. If I find one book of a series that grabs me, I'll look for the rest and start at the beginning.

message 20: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
Thanks to everyone who asked questions and offered comments yesterday! Today's featured author is Louise M. Gouge whose June book is A Proper Companion.

I was fortunate to have my first LIH novella published with one of Louise's last June in an anthology titled The Wedding Season: Much Ado About Nuptials\The Gentleman Takes a Bride.

Here's my question, Louise. I know your novella "The Gentleman Takes a Bride" brought the Moberley family from your earlier LIH books into the Regency era. Does A Proper Companion have any connection to the Moberleys or is it completely separate?

message 21: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Sparkes (wendysparkes) | 340 comments Deborah - I love Cinderella themed books too!

Louise - I notice from the excerpt on Amazon that the book starts in Shropshire, England. Shropshire is one of my favourite counties here in Britain & I love visiting there! What made you choose Shropshire as a setting?

message 22: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Sparkes (wendysparkes) | 340 comments Ausjenny wrote: "Hi Deborah, Dont enter me as I have 3 of the four books coming. I preordered last month when i did an order and got 10% off and free delivery (got to love the book depository).

How did you come u..."

I love the book depository too! I pre-ordered some when they had 10% off also: 1 LIH (Lacy Williams' from last month) 2 LI & 3 LIS - it was hard to pick which ones to go for, such a great selection at such a bargain offer!

message 23: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments I'm so glad to be here! Today my new series, Ladies in Waiting, debuts. These are three stories about ladies' companions in Regency England. Young women who have fallen on hard times find employment with wealthy ladies. Then they find love, of course! The first book is A Proper Companion. Anna Newfield is a vicar's daughter. In a matter of a few days, she loses her father, her home, and her inheritance. Major Edmond Grenville has returned home after being wounded in the American war. He offers to take Anna to live with his mother, the formidible Lady Greystone, who is in need of a companion. What a fun story this has been to research and write!

message 24: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments Hi, Wendy. I decided on Shropshire because I like the sound of the name, so very British! I needed a county some distance from London for several plot points. The setting also needed a variety of scenes, such as a village within one day's travel of Lady Greystone's manor house. All of these things seemed to work in Shropshire. How I wish I could visit there to see if I got it right!

message 25: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments Hi, Deborah. It was such a thrill to have my first Regency story published in the same book as your lovely story! To answer your question, so far the Moberly family has not made an appearance in my Ladies in Waiting series, but I do plan to bring in the gruff old earl in the third book. I love to create family legacies and link books that way, as I see that you do, too. Readers really seems to enjoy it, don't you think?

message 26: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Shackelford (sherrishackelford) | 169 comments Louise, I simply adore Regencies! And I like how picked Shropshire. It does sound wonderfully British ;)

message 27: by Lyn (new)

Lyn (lyncote) | 1644 comments Mod
Louise, the series sounds FAB! I love Regency romances. Are you a fan of Georgette Heyer?

message 28: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments Thanks for your question, Lyn. I wish I could say I was a long time fan of Ms. Heyer. However, I was not aware of her books until recently. My love for the Regency era began with the 1995 A & E series Pride and Prejudice. I also took a graduate class in Jane Austen's novels. Now that I know about Heyer from fellow historical authors, I plan to order some of her books to learn more about her.

message 29: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Sparkes (wendysparkes) | 340 comments Well you definitely chose a county some distance from London! As for the village within one day's travel of the manor - that seems right too. Stokesay Castle (an old manor house is very close to Craven Arms - a small market town, but was the small village of Newton previously. It grew in the 19th Century when the railroads came, & became a railroad town. Clun is another village nearby, but further off than Craven Arms. We usually stay in a hamlet near Craven Arms when we visit so I'm very familiar with that area.

Attingham Park is a Regency Manor House ( also in Shropshire, fairly near to Shrewsbury which would have been a main town even then, but still far enough out to be near villages as well. I've not yet been to Attingham Park - it's on my to-do list!

I hope you get to come & visit Shropshire one day - it is a beautiful place!

My love for the Regency era began with Jane Austen too!

message 30: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments Wendy, that sounds so lovely. Do you live in England? Are you English? Or do you travel there frequently?

message 31: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Sparkes (wendysparkes) | 340 comments I'm English, & I live in England. We've just had a long weekend (Mon & today have been Bank Holidays) to celebrate our Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

message 32: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments Oh, my yes! I've been watching on television. What a great lady! I'm praying for Prince Philip to get well and be at her side for her next Jubilee. Thanks for participating in this discussion. Although I'm proud to be American, I do love my English ancestry (traced back to 1632). Maybe that's why I love to write about England. Have made only one trip there in 1992, and it was way to short and limited.

message 33: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Sparkes (wendysparkes) | 340 comments Yes, we're praying for Prince Philip too. He's been such a stalwart consort to the Queen - they have both served our country well!

Where did you visit when you came to England?

message 34: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments I was with a church drama group presenting the Passion Play in Coventry at the University. There were over 300 of us in our troup. I saw some of Coventry, including Warwick Castle. We also went over to Cardiff for two days, then down to London for two days. But we couldn't wander from the group, so my sightseeing was limited. Still, it was a wonderful trip that I'll never forget.

message 35: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Sparkes (wendysparkes) | 340 comments Glad you had a memorable trip.

message 36: by Paula-O (new)

Paula-O (kyflo130) | 2257 comments Louise I saw some about your book earlier today on facebook, I like the sound of the story. I read lot of historical and regency and love the "properness" of regency era. A proper companion -I will be reading this one I am sure. Were they always like that, sometimes I want to shake some characters that I see not saying what they are feeling because it would not be proper, Like in Jane Eyre type movies. Then again we could use a little more in today's society where it seems "everything goes".

message 37: by Ausjenny (new)

Ausjenny | 4952 comments Louise you said the books have ladys in waiting does this mean the books are not so much about all the pomp and ceremony of the time? Why I ask is I am not a regency fan but its more because of the way the upperclass act.

I dont mind the books where its the lower classes and I do like navel personnel.

message 38: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments Hi, Paula-O. That's a great observation. We like to speak our minds these days, don't we? But we would have gotten into a lot of trouble for doing so in Regency times. I guess people learn how to survive in their own times. But to wear those gorgeous dresses and to live in one of those elegant mansions, I might be willing to zip my lip, at least for a while. LOL

message 39: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments Hi, Ausjenny. My publisher chose the series title of Ladies in Waiting, although my characters are not serving royalty. Not much pomp and ceremony in my stories, but I do have aristocratic characters. It's fun to guess how they might have behaved, but my stories are only a guess. I also like stories about the lower classes, such as Charles Dickens wrote. Yes, naval officers make lovely heroes! Thank you for stopping by!

message 40: by Ausjenny (new)

Ausjenny | 4952 comments Louise your book sounds good and I would love to go in the draw for it as I have the others or will have them as I have preordered etc.

I do like Charles Dickens books. I love Hornblower and have to say loved the Scarlet Pimpernel. I understand about the ladies in waiting are not serving royalty. I gather its a term for ladies serving the aristocrats

message 41: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments I like Hornblower and Scarlet Pimpernel, too. Haven't read the books, but love the films and television series about them. I also enjoyed Master and Commander, and wish there was a sequel to the first movie with Russell Crowe. That was quite thrilling, even though there was no romance in it.

message 42: by Ausjenny (new)

Ausjenny | 4952 comments I haven't read the books either but I really love Hornblower (I guess its cos I really like Ioan Gruffudd.
I thinks its interesting how we can really enjoy shows like this without the romance in them.

message 43: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments Maybe it has to do with our love for heroic people, esp. men (since we're romance novel lovers).

message 44: by Ausjenny (new)

Ausjenny | 4952 comments True. I also really like the movie Gettysburg and hardly a female it that either but it tells the story of the battle.

I think with Hornblower I love the story. It was written so well that it holds the attention. (I think the English actually do some of these sorts of stories better than hollywood.)

When you were writing this book did you find any interesting facts that surprised you in your research?

message 45: by Louise (new)

Louise Gouge (louisemgouge) | 419 comments Oh, I agree that the English, esp. BBC, do a marvelous job with their series and films. Hollywood just loves to twist history. Mangle it, actually.

This book is my first full length Regency, so I learned many interesting things about the era. One is in regard to precedence. We Americans (and I think you Aussies, too) are very independent. We can move up in the world and reach any goal we strive for. But in the Regency and all of British history, one was expected to stay in one's class. Maybe that's why Cinderella stories (and William and Kate) are so popular. They break all of the old social rules.

message 46: by Ausjenny (new)

Ausjenny | 4952 comments Thats true Louise. I know we did have a class system here early on with the early settlers in the city etc. it was the soldiers, free settlers then the free convicts and they suffered alot but as it went on the class system didn't survive as well. Although there was like in America the wealthy squatters (ranchers) and the smaller farmers. But you could marry across the classes to a degree unlike in the British history.

message 47: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Hale | 639 comments Mod
Good morning, everyone! Lots of great questions for Louise yesterday. Big thanks to her for taking part!

Today's featured author is Winnie Griggs and her June book is A Baby Between Them, the third story in the Irish Brides trilogy.

I remember the first story of Winnie's I read had the heroine with a child playing the word game "The Preacher's Cat." So it seems like the perfect fit that she is writing inspirational historicals involving families!

Winnie, I'd like to know what kinds of things you and Cheryl and Renee had to brainstorm as background for the Irish Brides series. Also, so you ever recognize aspects of your own children in the young characters who write about?

message 48: by Ausjenny (new)

Ausjenny | 4952 comments Deborah great question I would love to know also.

Welcome Winnie, I have this book on preorder.
Oh and Winnie is on my blog tomorrow.

As I asked the other authors did you find anything in your research that really surprised you or you found really interesting?

(will see the answers when I get up. Im off to bed)

message 49: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Sparkes (wendysparkes) | 340 comments Winnie, I remember from last month Renee mentioned that she was given quite a bit of information about her heroine but not a lot for the hero. Was this the same for you?

message 50: by Winnie (new)

Winnie Griggs (winniegriggs) | 235 comments Deb - wow, I can't believe you remember that opening scene from my first book!!! The brainstorming with Renee and Cheryl was one of the really fun things about writing the Irish Brides project. Both had done continuities before but this was my first so I was really glad to have them to lean on a little. We brainstormed lots of things, from the name of the ship they would cross the ocean on to some of the extra secondary characters we would include that weren't included in the story 'bible'. Renee and I also did a lot of brainstorming on the layout of the town of Faith Glen where both of our books are set.

As for whether aspects of my four children show up in my books, of course they do! I also helped in the children's nursery in our church for over eleven years, so I draw a lot on my experience from those years as well.

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